Everyone loves something free. It doesn’t matter whether we are in the United States, Nigeria, India, United Kingdom, Australia, Kenya, or Ghana; we all do. Ranging from shopping coupons to discounts on products, flash sales and so much more. We all love when we have access to services at a little cost than usual. This also applies to our internet connection. A lot of people use public Wifi hotspots when out and about. Many businesses now give free internet access to their customers as a form of marketing strategy or just to make the customers feel comfortable.
Personally, I have friends that go to the library in school just to use the public WiFi, or head over to a café to browse the internet at the cost of the café. I mean, it saves you the cost of using your own data. The question is, is it safe to use public WiFi? Not entirely. You need to be aware that this act can be dangerous if you are not careful.
What are the dangers of using public WiFi?
Using a public WiFi can serve as an opportunity for a hacker to gain access to information on your device. How? This is possible through a means called WiFi Phishing, where hackers serve a bait to unsuspecting individuals and this bait is access to an open WiFi that is very identical to that of a genuine Wi-Fi access point.
These hackers understand that most people coming to the school library, the cafe, hotel, eatery, etc, are going to connect to the WiFi offered by the institute or firm, so they take countermeasures to also offer a WiFi access that is very similar to that of the institute or firm. By doing this, some people might connect to the WiFi they set up and as simple as that you might have just sold away your vital information.
If you have connected to a WiFi before, or you have a WiFi at home, or you even simply turn on your phone’s hotspot, you will know that once someone connects to your hotspot. You can immediately tell the device, it’s IP address, and so much more. So the moment you connect to a WiFi set up by hackers, this information is open to them and by the aid of a sniffing tool they can pick out your device and intercept data packets between your device and the internet to gain access to your browsing history. Now the level of damage they can do will depend on what you are browsing online. If you are using the Wi-Fi to bank online then you might just be in big trouble. The question then is, how can you use public WiFi safely?
How To Use public WiFi safely And Keep Your Information Safe
Keeping your personal information safe should be top priority to you whenever you are surfing the internet. This is because you are at constant risk of being attacked by hackers and even worse when you are connected to an unprotected network. There are very important steps you need to take when connecting to any WiFi network that you are not sure about (if it doesn’t belong to you or to anyone you are sure of). The following tips will help you stay safe if you need to use public Wifi anywhere.
- Set your device to always ask before it connects to a network: This feature is very important. Head over to your settings, most devices have the option in the settings to enable automatic connection to a WiFi, you can find this in your Network and Internet section. You have the option of turning this on or leaving it off. If you turn it on then you must also select the option to “always ask” before your device connects to any WiFi. By doing this, you set your device so as not to just connect to the strongest signal around you. This keeps your device and your sensitive information safe.
- Do not use any login or password when on a public network: How hackers attract via Wi-Phising is to keep track of your device browsing history, and by doing so they can see any website you accessed and your activity while on that website. So you can see why I earlier said that if you are banking online on a public network, you are in big trouble. By gaining access to your browsing history, these hackers can see or even alter your logins, either to your social media account or even your bank login. Do not use any login while on a public network.
- Choose the correct network: It would not hurt if you walk up to the workers at the café, library, restaurant, etc to ask for the actual network they want their customers to connect to. This will save you from connecting to any wrong network. I also advise that you save the network after confirming so that any time you are in the location of the public network, it will pop up as a saved network.
- Choose a secure network: Before connecting to a public network you can also check if it is secure and this can be seen just by the right-hand side of the network name. A padlock sign will be displayed. This signals that the network is secured. Then proceed to request the password from the network provider or the WiFi owner.
- Use a VPN: Wondering what a VPN is? Check out this article published here on MobilityArena. This means virtual private network, and it helps to keep your browsing anonymous.
To use public Wifi safely, ensure that you follow these steps to keep your device privacy in one piece and safe from hackers.
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